Avalanche-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 20, 2012
The Los Angeles Kings keep coming up short when games go past regulation. The Colorado Avalanche have thrived in those situations. Those trends held true the last time the Avs visited Los Angeles, but the Kings still can extend their home point streak over Colorado to seven Saturday night. Since coach Darryl Sutter replaced the fired Terry Murray on Dec. 22, Los Angeles (23-15-10) has gone 8-1-6, with nine of those contests lasting longer than 60 minutes. The Kings have won just twice - including Tuesday's 3-2 shootout victory at Vancouver - in their last eight that have gone past three periods. "It's a grind, especially at this time of the year," captain Dustin Brown said after scoring in regulation in Thursday's 2-1 shootout loss to Calgary. "Everyone is trying to go out and get points. When it goes to a shootout, I don't know what our shootout record is (4-0-6), but it's just a roll of the dice really, when it comes to that." The Kings have lost four of their last five shootouts, including a 2-1 defeat to Colorado on Jan. 2 when Brown, Jarret Stoll and Anze Kopitar were stopped by Semyon Varlamov in the tiebreaker. Milan Hejduk beat Jonathan Quick for the lone goal in the shootout to help the Avs (25-21-2) snap a four-game skid in Los Angeles. "We have some confidence in shootouts," coach Joe Sacco said after that victory. Colorado is 7-0 in tiebreakers this season and has won its last 10, one shy of Dallas' league record set in 2005-06. Ryan O'Reilly scored the overtime game-winner Wednesday against Florida after the Avs rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period of a 4-3 victory, improving to 4-0-2 in games that have ended in OT. "A huge character win for us," said O'Reilly, who has three goals and three assists in his last five games. "It shows that no matter what, we're in each game." Continued production from Peter Mueller could add to that confidence and provide a much-needed scoring boost for a club that had six total goals in five games leading up to Wednesday's contest. Playing his fourth game after being out three months with concussion symptoms, the center scored twice Wednesday before setting up Paul Stastny's game-tying goal. "I think I'm becoming the player I used to be," said Mueller, who missed all of 2010-11 with his concussion. Mueller has a goal and five assists in his last four games against Los Angeles. He missed the Jan. 2 matchup and a 3-2 home win over the Kings on Oct. 30, when Colorado ended a five-game skid in this series. Quick has been in net for both losses to the Avalanche in 2011-12. He was 7-0-0 with two shutouts against Colorado before this season. Varlamov has turned aside 61 of 64 shots versus Los Angeles this season, but he's surrendered 10 goals while losing his last two starts. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 7-2-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average in his last 10 outings after making 26 saves Wednesday. He is 7-2-0 with a 2.78 GAA in his last 10 starts in Los Angeles. The Kings, though, are 4-0-2 at home against the Avs since a 4-3 loss Oct. 20, 2008.
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